SQL SERVER – Database Size Limitation in SQL Express

SQL SERVER - Database Size Limitation in SQL Express express I have a tendency to write a number of interview style questions and those are quite popular in this blog. Having said that, sometimes we get asked about tricky questions on a small variety which we might know some of the basics – but sometimes it makes us think twice. This blog is an inspiration on someone who quizzed me with a number of questions on SQL Server Express Edition and I thought to put them up here in a FAQ style for reference.

We all know that there is a limit in SQL Server Express Edition with respect to the size of the database. There have been many confusions around this area. This blog post is meant to come clear of those doubts – by no means this is not exhaustive of all. I have kept them in Q&A format and would add more.

  1. What is the size limit you are talking about in SQL Server Express Edition?

That is a function of  the version of SQL Server:
SQL 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE) has limit of 2 GB data file(s) size.

SQL 2005 Express Edition has limit of 4 GB data file(s) size.

SQL 2008, SQL 2008 R2, SQL 2012 and SQL 2014 Express Edition has limit of 10 GB data file(s) size.

  1. What is the error I would get if I cross that the limits of data sizes mentioned above?

You are likely to face errors in that scenario. Here are two common errors for reference:
CREATE DATABASE or ALTER DATABASE failed because the resulting cumulative database size would exceed your licensed limit of 10240 MB per database

Size in the error message would depend on limit of that SQL Version of Express. The above message is from SQL 2008 R2 till SQL 2014.

In ERRORLOG, you would see errors as below when limit is reached.
Could not allocate space for object ‘TableName’.’IndexName’ in database ‘DatabaseName’ because the ‘PRIMARY’ filegroup is full. Create disk space by deleting unneeded files, dropping objects in the filegroup, adding additional files to the filegroup, or setting autogrowth on for existing files in the filegroup.

  1. Is this limit on size for per instance or per database?

The size limit is per database so if the database is composed of multiple data files, then the limit is across all data files in the single database.

  1. Can I have 2 databases of 10 GB each in SQL Server 2014?

Yes. As explained in #3 its per database data file limit.

  1. Does this limit include Transaction Log (LDF) file?

No. It’s only for data files.

  1. Does this limit include File stream file container?

No. It’s only for data files.

  1. Is there any workaround to increase the limit?

There is none to increase the file size limitation. Filestream is not part of the limit so is possible move the blob data file stream.

  1. Will my database be unusable?

No. Adding new data, which needs file size increase would fail with the error mentioned above. SELECT can still run on the database.

  1. What if I want to upgrade to full version of SQL from SQL Express?

That can be done using “Edition Upgrade” Below talks about EVAL edition but same steps can be applied for SQL Express upgrade also.

SQL SERVER – Evaluation Period Has Expired – How to Activate SQL Server?

  1. What else can be done?

Delete unwanted data and shrink the data file.

These are some of the common questions I have seen around with SQL Server Express Edition and its file size limits. Do let me know if you wanted to know anything specific in this area with Express Editions. Will be more than happy to expand the FAQ list to include them. Drop in a line via comments.

Reference: Pinal Dave (https://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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10 Comments. Leave new

  • Is there any limit on maximum concurrent users

  • The SQL Server Express 2012 is in use at production of one of our application. The data increased to 1.5 GB now. The application in one box and database in one box and now the application is very slow while 60 concurrent users in access. Already we indexed required field and SP level tuning were already done. Eventhough, the web application is very slow and CPU at application and database frequently reach 100%. Is performance tuning administrative tasks are possible in express edition? Kindly help me Sir.

  • Buffer should be managed

  • With respect, I think #5: “Q. Does this limit include Transaction Log (LDF) file? A. No. It’s only for data files.” is wrong. I just hit the 10 GB limit and resolved it by shrinking the log file. The error is about the “file group”, not the data file alone.

    • DB, you are incorrect. I have lots of .LDF files well over 10GB just themselves. The limit is for the data file (.mdf).

      • Yes. Agree. As mentioned in my blog, its ONLY for Data file. (Note that you can put any desired extension to file but that won’t change anything)

  • Thanks for verifying. My situation was strange then, but good to know what’s what.

  • Hi, I’m using database express edition 2014 and I receive a lot like 10 Millions rows where says “ailed because the resulting cumulative database size would exceed your licensed limit of 10240 MB per database” it’s fine I know there is limitation but can we get ride of those logs, can we disable those type of logs ?


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